In the United States, sugar is everywhere. According to the American Heart Association, the average adult consumes upwards of 17 teaspoons (71 grams) of sugar per day, which is roughly three times the recommended amount. A big part of the problem is that food manufacturers put sugar into pre-packaged items, often adding more than would occur naturally. So, consumers have to make smarter choices and pay closer attention to how much sugar they’re eating and where it’s coming from. With that in mind, let’s look at some different ways you can cut down on your sugar intake.
Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Sugar Intake
Since sugar is everywhere, it’s easy to assume that eating too much of it won’t affect your body that much. However, adding more sugar into your diet can cause a range of problems, such as:
- Diabetes – Over 37 million people in the US have diabetes, and the vast majority of those people developed it through poor diet and exercise. Eating too much sugar and not exercising is an easy way to develop this permanent condition.
- Tooth Decay – Sugar itself wears down the enamel of your teeth, and it attracts a lot of bacteria so they multiply by the thousands. If you eat too much sugar and don’t take care of your teeth and gums, you may wind up with cavities and gum disease.
- Mood Swings – Did you know that sugar causes a dopamine rush, giving you a sort of “natural high?” Over time, as your body develops a tolerance to sugar, you need more of it to get the same feeling, meaning you’ll start ingesting more sugar, perpetuating the problem.
Overall, too much sugar can wreak havoc on your overall health, including your oral hygiene. Fortunately, if you need a cosmetic dentist in Jacksonville, we’re just a phone call away.
How to Reduce the Amount of Sugar You Eat
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on food manufacturers to decide how much sugar you ingest on a daily basis. By being proactive and focusing on solving the problem, you can fix it pretty easily. Some tactics for reducing your sugar intake include:
Pay Attention to Labels
The first step to eating less sugar is to pay attention to how much you’re getting from different foods. Fortunately, most packages show the sugar content, so you can keep a running tally. According to the AHA, most people get about 25 percent of their sugar from beverages (i.e., soda or juice), so that is a great place to start.
Also, start looking at different types of sugar in the ingredient list. Some common varieties include:
Also, the higher up it is in the ingredient list, the more of it is in the food. In many cases, food manufacturers will use different names to hide how much sugar is actually in the product.
Eat Whole, Unprocessed Foods
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with processed foods, they are more likely to have added sugars. Whole foods like wheat bread, fruits, and vegetables, all have lower amounts of sugar in them.
Better yet, the sugar that exists naturally in fruit is much easier for your body to digest, so it doesn’t have the same impact as processed or refined sugar. However, this benefit is erased if you drink fruit juices, even those with no added sugars.
Find Low-Sugar Snacks and Additives
Once you have a better idea of how much sugar you’re eating regularly, you can start making smarter choices about what you eat and drink. For example, switching to diet soda can eliminate a lot of sugar and empty calories from a meal, and help save your teeth in the process.
At first, your body may struggle with a significant drop in sugar intake, but over time, you can acclimate to non-sweet variations and start preferring them over sugary alternatives.
Get Better Dental Health From Smiles by Shields
While managing your sugar levels is important, your smile is just as valuable. Smiles by Shields is your premier cosmetic dentist in Jacksonville, FL, and we’re committed to giving you the smile you deserve. Contact us today to find out more about our dental implants and other procedures we offer.